Art Room Attention Getters

What better way to explain to you how I get my student’s attention in the art room then SHOW you!  Be sure to share your own tactics for Art Room “Attention Getters” in the comments section below.

Links Mentioned:

Whole Brain Teaching

7 years ago

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Thanks – and I love the video!! I would be interested to hear how you teach each attention getter – do you just throw it out there and model what to do or do you have a process to teach them what they should do when they hear each attention getter?

    • Tisha,
      Sometimes I make it a mini lesson but sometimes I just throw it out there, practice once or twice and use it that class period! For K at the beginning of the year I make them mini lessons.
      Hope it helps!

  • Great ideas! Thanks for these! I want more videos!

  • Chris Lincoln

    Jessica, thanks so much for the video. I do some of the “attention getters” but will give some of the new ones a try! Loved the video (I’m a visual learner!). Merry Christmas to your new family,

  • karen

    This is great, love the video format and it is great to meet the wonderful person behind all the great ideas!!!

  • Depending on the class and what is going on will depend on what attention getter I use. The following are ones I use often!
    1) I will say things like “if you can hear my voice put your hands on your head. If you can hear my voice touch your toes- hands on your shoulders….” I do his till I have everyone’s attention. This is great for those kids that have a hard time putting down supplies!
    2) often times I will place out a bucket for scraps or a material I want put in a certain spot. To get he students attention I will balance the tub on my head and ask students to raise their hand when they can tell me wha I have on my head. This is such a strange request that students look up immediately and are ready for the instruction.
    This could easily be adapted to “what color is the container I’m holding”

    • You always have the best ideas- I your “extreme attention getting” techniques- bound to work and I will have to try, esp with my rowdy 1st grade at the end of the day.

      • Haha. Thanks Jess. Yes both techniques work well with high physical energy classes — I have found that the first technique (If you hear my voice put your hands on your head” works exceptionally well with really LOUD classes. I talk in a normal voice when I say it – but since kids are doing strange things like touching their toes or turning in circles it tends to grab the attention of near by students. — Also works great with LARGE numbers of kids — ei. on the bus, assembly, etc.

        Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

        • Vivian

          Ms. Novak, Thanks for sharing these ideas! I will certainly have fun implementing these strategies!:)

  • Kathy Olson

    Loved the video! Nice way to present your ideas to us.

  • Kellie Determan

    Jess, once again this has been a terrific lesson! I like the different ways you explain Attention Getters. A couple of them I’ve heard and used before. The WBT ‘Class-Yes” works for about half a year or so. I know that I have to switch up attention getters and think I’ll be trying out a couple of yours. Thank you!

  • Loved the video! I have tried several of these attention getters over the years, but some are brand new to me. I will test a new one out this week. Thanks for the post.

    Rina at

  • Loved the video and great ideas! I have an attention getter that I have been using with my elementary students for a few years now and it’s time to change it up some. I say “Mona” and they respond “Lisa” then freeze and put eyes on me. It works – just time to shake it up a bit. I like the idea of using a different tone or way of saying it – I think I will give that a try.

    Thanks for all your great ideas!
    Theresa (@greeneyegal)

  • Great ideas from you and from fellow teachers! I do enjoy the video format too. Here’s another variation that I’ve seen but not tried – seems to work great with lower elementary – teacher says Ring! Ring! and students pick up their imaginary phone (hands are then free) and say “Hello Hello”. Kind of goofy but I hear the kinder-first grade bunch loves it.

  • I use the Time Out Sign while saying “Time Out” – then thank students who show it back to me. They like hearing their name being called for a thank you and it usually gets really quiet after I thank about two or three students. This is from Capturing Kids’ Hearts training.

  • Thank you! I tried the counting down today…I think it really helped some of the kiddos!

  • Jessica.. thanks for doing the video..loved the format and helpful info… I put the countdown one to the test and it worked wonderfully! The kids really responded to it! Thanks and I look forward to the next video!!

  • Nicki

    I just thought I would let you know…I tried this today (the “What have I got on my head” one) and I cannot believe how my class of Grade 4’s responded – they started copying my hands and my mouth expressions until I had them all in silence after about 5 seconds! Such a fun and effective way to get their attention! Nearly as successful as the “Oh Look! There’s a bear at the window”” but that only works the once lol!
    Thanks for the website Jessica – keep them coming!

  • When you said you do the signal until they get it… That really stuck for me. Tried repeating signals till they got it. Works better then getting frustrated! Thanks!

  • Molly

    I have a music wand that I got from that I use to get their attention.
    The wands come in really cool shapes and make a beautiful sound when you tap it on a surface. I call it my magic wand!
    Thanks so much for all your great ideas. I really love your blog!

    • Vivian

      Love that idea! I will need to look into that!

  • Laurie Kahn

    Any High School art teachers know of attention getters that REALLY work?
    These (in video) are wonderful for younger students, but don’t seem like they would work on the older bunch.

  • Von Rugg

    TY Jessica! I like the video format. I’m always looking for new and effective attention getters. Gonna need a little help getting kids cleaned up and out the door on time this coming September I think I’ll be teaching back-to-back preps with ‘0’ time in between classes (ex: one group ends at 9:50 and the next starts at 9:50). I have used ‘Class-Yes’ in upper elementary grades with good success. One attention getter I use with kinders and 1st graders is ‘if you can hear me clap once – if you can hear me clap twice’. Want to try the object on my head one! lol TY everyone for all the great ideas! ~Von

  • Melissa

    I use the simple…
    Hocus Pocus-Everybody Focus!
    To infinity – and beyond!